Monday, March 16, 2020

Lawsuit Calls for Immediate Housing of Homeless/ADA Enforcement

Taxpayer Lawsuit Filed to Force Housing of 
All Homeless in Less Expensive Facilities

Attorney Elizabeth Mitchell of the law firm of Spertus, Landes and Umhofer, representing the homeless, property owners, residents and the disabled, has filed a lawsuit in Federal Court to force the City and County of Los Angeles to house all of its homeless in less expensive facilities as soon as possible.

The suit contains 14 causes of action, including:


The City and County have breached their duty to their citizens to keep their communities’ streets open and available for movement of people and property.

Mandatory Duty

Basic shelter is “medically necessary” insofar as it is “reasonable and necessary to protect life, to prevent significant illness or significant disability, or to alleviate severe pain” and the City and County’s failure to provide the same to its homeless population constitutes a breach of its duty under California Welfare & Institution Code Sections 17000 and 10000.

Public and Private Nuisance

The City and County have caused a substantial and unreasonable interference with the enjoyment of citizens’ property, whether that be a building owned or room rented; each have suffered and continue to be threatened with respect to their health and welfare, by reason of the constant threat of disease and the experience of human waste, trash, and encampments outside their property.

Inverse Condemnation

The actions by the City have limited, damaged, and/or burdened the owners’ property and/or business so substantially they rise to the level of a regulatory taking, yet no compensation has been provided.

Waste of Public Funds and Resources

The City and the County have spent enormous amounts of public funds on the homelessness crisis in ways that have had little or no effect on the crisis, and thereby wasted those public funds.

Violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

Numerous acts by the City constitute a “project” under CEQA, including the power-washing scheme which flushes thousands of tons per year of toxic substances into our oceans. The City’s decision to settle Mitchell v. City of Los Angeles is another example of a “project” in the Skid Row area; permitting unlimited property accumulation in the area has caused untold amounts of human waste, trash, debris, and toxic substances to wash into our waterways. Substantial evidence exists that the growing homelessness crisis may have a significant effect on the environment.  Yet no review has ever been done, in violation of the CEQA.

Violation of the California Disabled Persons Act and American with Disabilities Act

The City and County are failing to uphold their obligations to maintain clear and accessible sidewalks and public rights-of way for its disabled residents and visitors, resulting in regular violations of the California Disabled Persons Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. These violations are obvious and known to the City and County both through their own inspections and various reports of blocked sidewalks due to encampments through its own reporting mechanisms, such as 311. Defendants and its agents and employees have failed and continue to fail to provide reasonable accommodations for disabled persons using public sidewalks.

Violation of Due Process and Equal Protection

By enforcing the law in some areas and declining to enforce the law in others, and by abdicating their duties under the law, the City has arbitrarily determined where homeless encampments may or may not be located and what communities should be affected, without following their own respective procedures and in violation of both state and federal law. This has placed a disproportionate burden on some persons, communities, and businesses over others.

Violation of State-Created Danger Doctrine

Defendants have affirmatively created or increased the risk that citizens would be exposed to dangerous conditions, which placed these citizens specifically at risk, and these citizens were harmed as a result.

Uncompensated Taking

The actions by the City have limited, damaged, and/or burdened the property owners so substantially they rise to the level of a regulatory taking, yet no compensation has been provided.

Municipal Liability for Unconstitutional Custom or Policy

The City and County acted with deliberate indifference, and conscious and reckless disregard to the safety, security, and constitutional and statutory rights of citizens.

Towards the objective of housing all unsheltered homeless persons as soon as possible, the suit asks for immediate funding and of proven less-costly housing models, including:

1.       Large membrane tents capable of housing 100 people that may be constructed in a few months (cost: $10,000 per bed), e.g., the Union Rescue Mission just erected one at that price.
2.       Large military-grade inflatable tents (cost: $6,000 per bed).
3.       Pallet shelters (cost: $2,000 per bed).
4.       Tent “Kits” capable of housing a family of four, with furniture, refrigerator, heater and electrical generator (Cost: $500 per bed, $2,000 per kit).
5.       SHARE Collaborative Housing, two persons per bedroom in existing single-family homes and multi-family buildings (Cost: $500 to $700 monthly rent self-financed by each individual’s SSI, General Relief and other benefits; $8,000 cost per annuum per person for management, peer-counseling and other social services).

The suit would also require the City to maintain 36-inch ADA access on all sidewalks all the time.